As the Indiana Senate concluded the 2015 legislative session, Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) applauded the passage of key measures to support Indiana’s education system, promote economic growth and protect Hoosier taxpayers.
Key measures included passage of a balanced two-year state budget, increased funding for K-12 education, additional money for boosting teacher pay, and sweeping government ethics reform.
“In January, I joined with other leaders in calling for this to be an education session, and we have answered that call,” Long said. “Lawmakers have substantially increased funding support for our K-12 schools, boosted pay for our best teachers, and given local schools more flexibility and freedom. In addition to these education successes, we have protected taxpayers by passing a balanced budget and starting the process for adding a balanced budget amendment to our state constitution.”
Some noteworthy bills passed by the General Assembly this year include:
- House Bill 1001: Balanced two-year state budget with no tax increases. The budget maintains Indiana’s hard-fought reserve funds and prioritizes education funding with a $474 million increase for K-12 schools.
- Senate Joint Resolution 19: Would make Indiana’s recent track record of fiscal responsibility permanent by starting the process of amending the state constitution to prohibit state spending from exceeding state tax revenue unless two-thirds of the General Assembly deem it necessary to use emergency spending measures.
- Senate Bill 1: Addresses the ongoing dysfunction on the State Board of Education (SBOE) with a comprehensive reform of the board that’s based on compromise. Two of the governor’s appointments are replaced with legislative appointments, creating more balance in board membership. SB 1 also brings Indiana’s SBOE in line with most states by allowing board members to elect the board’s chair. This change will take effect in 2017, after the state superintendent finishes her current term as board chair.
- Senate Bill 566: Allows local school boards to make up to half of each teacher’s bonus under the School Performance Grant program a permanent part of the teacher’s salary; also allows school boards to approve extra pay for teachers with master’s degrees in a subject they teach.
- Senate Bill 500: Promotes local control of schools by eliminating more than 50 outdated and burdensome regulations that forced schools to commit resources to overhead instead of teaching.
- House Bill 1009: Allows every school board in Indiana to designate any of its schools an “Innovation Network School,” which operates with greater legal flexibility.
- House Bill 1002: Strengthens legislators’ financial disclosure requirements and prevents executive-branch employees from leaving government to go work for a company they formerly helped regulate. These changes will help government officials avoid conflicts of interest and will make state government more transparent for Hoosiers.
These bills now go to the governor for his consideration.
The Senate is now adjourned “sine die”— which signifies the end of the 2015 Indiana General Assembly.
Editor’s Note: In the spirit of bipartisanship, Indy Politics is reprinting verbatim the assessment of the 2015 session of the Governor and four legislative leaders. We’ll have our own assessment in future blog post.